Looking for pool deck ideas to inspire your backyard oasis? While it’s a major investment, the benefits of adding a pool with deck area to a property are undeniable.
Although deck ideas have been a staple of the boat building business for centuries, this design approach didn't enter the interiors world until the 60s. Where once pavers reined supreme, we are now seeing more and more people choose deck to use around the pool area.
Over the years, decking's usage has expanded, and it has become the go-to material for a contemporary pool ideas. Materials have also come into their own. While early decks were made out of first-generation hardwoods, now it's hard-wearing composites and eco products made of recycled materials that are all the rage. We are also experimenting with stains and widths to give the wood a very contemporary feel.
Pool deck ideas
If you love to spend time outdoors, you're just a few pool deck ideas away from basking in the afternoon sun, or hosting friends and family for a summer pool party like no other.
1. Strike a softer note underfoot
Don’t rule out using pool deck ideas as an alternative to pavers when designing a pool area for your backyard. It’s another way to create a cool and sturdy feel underfoot, and can also help blend the pool area into the surrounding landscaping, or link it to a home with wood siding.
Choose a wood such as cedar, teak or ipê that will stand up to the demanding conditions, and bear in mind that it will have maintenance requirements.
‘Another option to consider is using some of the non-slip composites instead (made from polymer and wood fiber) which are sustainable and much more durable,’ says Fellow of the Society of Garden Designers and CEO of Bowles & Wyer John Wyer. ‘If you’re absolutely sold on the wood look, you could use non-slip porcelain planks, which are available in a wide variety of wood-like finishes.’
2. Invest in hardwearing timber
At its best, a timber pool deck is a handsome, hard-wearing surface that complements most pool areas. It’s a natural material that provides a sympathetic background to plants, blending beautifully with the water from the pool. Timber lends itself to different styles of architecture and design. A pool deck can be designed in a smart, contemporary look, as easily as in a more traditional style.
But pool deck ideas don’t only look good: other advantages include being relatively lightweight in comparison to stone, quick and easy to install and forgiving. Timber can be cut to size to fit perfectly round awkward corners, and is easily extended at a later date.
3. Let you deck get better with age
When it comes to pool deck ideas, there is so much scope for imaginative designs using wood stains, available in a wide selection of colors.
An informal look is created when decking is left natural and allowed to weather with time, turning a silvery-grey which, for a deck color idea that blends beautifully with plants and the natural landscape. A good compromise is to treat the decking with a wood oil that simply enhances the natural beauty of the wood – products made for treating timber boats are ideal.
4. Provide a tranquil spot for seating
Transform your pool area into an extension of your home by curating an outdoor living room on the deck. All it takes is a little planning, design know-how and expert advice.
‘Your pool deck area should always be thought of as an extension of your home, so it’s important to bring the comfort of indoors outside. One way to do this is to set up a shaded seating area by the pool area,' says OKA’s co-founder and creative director, Sue Jones.
To make the most of this ‘extra room’, we must think creatively about how to plan, design and decorate. An outdoor living area should offer all the comforts and style of an indoor living room but also be designed with the weather, privacy and surrounding features such as patios, planting and lawns in mind.
5. Think about modern materials
When it comes to modern garden design, wood pool deck is ideal for transforming smaller spaces, particularly roof terraces, balconies and courtyards. Offering a sleek link between your interior and exterior, real wood can create the sense of an extended living area, especially if the flooring materials are complementary.
With so much choice available when it comes to materials this is where things can get expensive, so it’s important to consider your budget so costs don’t spiral out of control.
You will want something that’s easy to maintain so bear in mind that smooth deck options are the best choice as water can pool in the grooves of ridged designs, but you will still need to oil them regularly to keep them protected against the elements and to retain their colour.
6. Use deck to divide a natural pool
A wooden boardwalk runs alongside this swimming pond. The natural pool has been split into two zones – one for swimming: and one for planting, which acts as a biological filter to keep the water clean and clear.
The ‘natural’ swimming pool is the style most rapidly gaining favor in country garden ideas, not only for its visual appeal, but also its eco-credentials.
7. Mix materials around a pool
When designing a pool deck area, it’s vital to consider how much hardscaping your backyard idea requires around the pool. Think about how much furniture will be located there? Should it incorporate distinct seating as well as a dining area? How much space do you want to allow for circulation?
‘A generous border of deck and concrete pavers or slabs around the pool allows for sun loungers and the ability to walk without worrying about getting to the edge,’ explains landscape designer Marcus Barnett.
8. Build a raised deck
If you're looking for small deck ideas, a custom design is a great choice, because it'll be built to maximize the space around your pool area for dining and socializing.
'A custom deck is a uniquely designed structure that meets your specific needs and preferences,' says Sam Toole CMO of TimberTech, a composite decking company. 'Working with a contractor for a custom-built deck ensures your deck is built to the right specifications for lasting performance.'
Here, the wood deck adds a sense of warmth to the harder patio ideas, and helps delineate the dining area from the nearby pool area.
9. Use deck to create pathways
It’s not a surprise that pool deck is now used so widely. It can be widened into platforms or narrowed into paths to link different areas, binding together a garden’s design.
In small or narrow pool areas, deck may even be used to replace lawn and paving, flowing in an unbroken series of paths, terraces and seating. With forward planning, lighting cables and water pipes can be concealed beneath, opening up options for deck lighting ideas that rival interior rooms.
10. Take you deck up a level
Deck is a godsend for split-level areas – built up into a platform or stepped downwards to cope with a sloping site. It draws the eye around the pool area, making it appear both wider and longer.
What decking is best around a pool?
Real wood is considered to be the best deck to use around a pool. ‘I see real wood as a big trend in decking,’ says garden designer Catherine Clancy. Always choose timber certified as coming from renewable plantations with a forest certification scheme (FSC). ‘There are so many natural wood products out there at the moment like Thermowood, a heat-treated softwood that fades to a lovely soft grey over time,’ she says. Real wood is a sustainable choice, too. If high-quality timber is used and maintained, a deck can last up to 30 years.
‘A pool deck is only going to last as long as its sub-frame so this is the key element and should be built to last,’ says landscape designer Rae Wilkinson. ‘There are settings to consider sustainably produced composite decking board, such as around a pool or in deep shade, but it’s worth bearing in mind that they all contain plastic, which poses a longer term environmental problem in terms of disposal.’
Most pool decks are made from pressure-treated softwoods, as it is a less costly option, but more durable hardwoods, such as ipê, balau and iroko, as well as oak, are a great choice if budget allows. Nicknamed ‘African teak’, iroko has a luxe appeal. Balau is another tropical wood that’s strong and water-resistant. Ipê stands out for its durability and density. You could also think about using reclaimed wood for something original and environmentally responsible. Whatever you end up choosing, you can’t go wrong with real wood for a timeless, beautiful and long-lasting result.
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Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.
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